What Does Received for Shipment (RFS) Mean? – Freight Course

In the world of shipping, there are many industry terms that are often misused or misunderstood. one of these terms is received for shipment.

received for shipment (rfs) indicates that the ocean carrier receives a shipment at the port, but it has not yet been loaded onto the designated vessel. The carrier may issue a received bill of lading to formalize the receipt of the containers, prior to loading. this should not be confused with a clean or on-board bill of lading.

An received-for-shipment clause does not guarantee that a shipment will be loaded on the vessel. Knowing this, a shipper or consignee must also plan for contingencies due to possible delays if a shipment does not load.

The term “received” and its related clauses are printed and can be found at the bottom right of the bill of lading or in the terms and conditions. once the notification is marked “received for shipment”, there will be no indication of shipment on board on the bill of lading.

Only once loading and shipment have been confirmed will the rfs notice be changed to an onboard bill of lading. then it will usually show a “ship on board” date.

when is received for forwarding (rfs) used?

Usually you see an RFS for shipments covered by a Letter of Credit (LC). rfs can be part of the conditions on an lc to satisfy the buyer or bank that cargo receipt/release has been confirmed.

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It should be noted that shippers and consignees generally agree to use a clean bill of lading sent on board for the letter of credit. however, due to certain factors, they may also agree to a received bill of lading for the shipment.

In addition, some carriers may require a letter of indemnity. the letter exempts the carrier from any responsibility, loss, damage due to documentary differences and if the containers are not loaded on the planned ship, the expenses derived from the detention, storage and customs fines will be borne by the shipper.

what does a received for shipment clause look like on a bill of lading?

The received for shipment clause is usually found in the lower right hand corner of the bill of lading or in the terms and conditions. Here’s an example of how the receipt for shipping notification is worded:

example of received for sending (rfs)

To better understand a bill of lading received for the shipment, you can refer to the following scenario.

In our example, a shipper and a consignee have agreed to use a letter of credit when the carrier issues a bill of lading. have agreed that a receipt for bl shipment is sufficient to release payment.

Let’s say the shipment consists of 3 x 40 foot containers containing clothing and fashion accessories. the shipper filled the containers accordingly, arranged for transportation to the port, and the containers entered.

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The carrier has also confirmed receipt of the container at the port yard. At the shipper’s request, the carrier has also issued a bill of lading received for shipment. This is a pre-printed bill of lading confirming that the carrier has received the cargo as described by the sender.

Because the carrier has issued the rfs bl, the sender must verify the “received for shipment” notation before sending it to the bank or consignee as part of the lc agreement, in order to receive payment.

It is important to note that the carrier has not confirmed that the containers have been loaded onto the ship. Only once the shipment is confirmed to have been loaded onto the ship and departed, can the carrier issue a clean bill of lading (also known as a bl on board).

received for shipment b/l (rfs) vs on board b/l(sob)

There are clear distinctions between a received bill of lading for shipments and an onboard bill of lading. First, the BL received for shipment is a pre-printed bill of lading and acknowledges that the carrier has received the cargo at the port.

On the other hand, the shipboard bill of lading, also known as a clean bill of lading, confirms that the shipment has been loaded and shipped onto a vessel and departed. this is indicated by a “shipped on board” or “loaded on board” date on the bl.

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Here, it is important to understand that a bill of lading received for shipment only acknowledges the receipt of the container by the carrier, not that it has been loaded and shipped.

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